FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Copper thieves caused 2,500 Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association customers to lose power for at least two hours Wednesday morning.
A PRVEPA spokesman said the association’s south Hattiesburg substation went down after copper wiring was stripped from some equipment.
Kurt Brautigam, PRVEPA manager of member services, said a fire was reported at the substation around 6:40 a.m. That’s when crews learned that copper wiring used to help ground the substation had been stolen, Brautigam said.
The ensuing outage affected customers in the south Forrest County area, including the Dixie community. Brautigam said PRVEPA crews had repaired the substation and restored full service to customers by 8:40 a.m.
According to Brautigam, copper theft is a growing problem across the country, and fixing the damage caused by these thieves can be costly. He added that not only is copper theft illegal, it’s also very dangerous.
“Copper theft is a serious problem nationwide, and we have recently seen more instances in South Mississippi,” said Brautigam. “These are criminal acts that obviously cause service issues for our members and incur additional cost to the association, but they also create a significant safety issue.”
Brautigam said the power association is working with authorities to identify the suspects in the crime.
Dixie attendance center was affected by the power outage and did not have lights for about an hour according to their principal, Dr.Elizabeth Bailey.
The Dixie attendance center did not allow the lights to stop children from learning so instead of being sent home, Dixie attendance center teachers went on with class.
“Our staff has emergency go bags, and so in there we have flash lights and all of our teachers have flash lights they can utilize.,” said Dr. Bailey.